Things Young Filmmakers Can Learn From The Fall Of Akshay Kumar’s Rustom

Posted on 19 August, 2016 by Team Wishberry


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Loosely inspired by the scandalous Nanavati murder case, Rustom opened over the long weekend to a whole bunch of horrid reviews. After skimming through a few of the headlines, I decided to catch the film and see for myself what exactly went wrong with this high budget, A-list starring film.

A little bit about the film: Rustom is set in the 1950s - considered to be Bombay’s most glamorous period. Director Tinu Suresh Desai introduces Rustom Pavri (Akshay Kumar) – a patriotic Indian naval officer, who returns home to realise his wife, Cynthia (Ileana D’Cruz), has been cheating on him with their common friend Vikram Makhija (Arjan Bajwa). Thence, a logical Rustom carefully plans his day and murders his wife’s lover with three bullets aimed straight to his heart. This, in turn, leads to a dramatic trial.

While the acting is powerful and the plot is somewhat decent, the film disappoints majorly due to its technical drawbacks - the camera work, the sets and the writing. And if you see this film for yourself (which, obviously, isn’t recommended), you’ll see some of the flaws glaring back at you.

Caricature characters

While Rustom’s textbook-patriotism, Cynthia’s damsel-like remorsefulness and the judge’s throwback to school principal are annoying, but still passable, it is Preeti’s (played by Esha Gupta) character that grates most. She does nothing but pout, smoke and get pissed - even when her brother is dead. It sticks out like a sore thumb in an already bleak character-scape. The film is doused with characters that lack depth and fail to leave a mark.

Writers, remember! Character is key. Period. Your story is only as good as the characters in them. It’s 2016, and it’s about time the audience got to see characters with a little more grey shades, and more rugged edges, as opposed to cardboard cutout caricatures.

Shoddy CGI

Technical developments in a film are made to enhance the audience’s experience, but Rustom’s heavy use of CGI (a subset of VFX) simply leave the touched scenes look like a joke. While the usage isn’t screwing with the laws of physics or has the entire city appear out of a fantasy film; the shots just look fake. The over-exposed colour palette in Rustom draws a lot of attention to the messy effort put into recreating 1950s in Bombay.

Retro overload

Remember the quote “too much of a good thing is bad”? If only someone printed a life size poster of this and put it on the sets. While we all love some throwback and time travel, overdoing it only turns the film into visual diarrhoea. The film clearly suffers from an overdose of retro - to an extent that the film looks like a parody of the era it’s set in. Subtlety and moderation can be stylish too, guys. Remember!

Poor portrayal of a real-life incident

The greatest grievance! Research and authenticity are essential for breathing life into any story that depicts real places, landmarks, uniforms, etc. And when the plot is inspired by one of the most popular cases of the 50s, this becomes all the more important. I get dramatization. This isn’t, after all, a BBC Documentary. But, how much creative liberty is acceptable, really, when a film’s key selling point is that it’s inspired by true events?

Desai disappoints his audience with an unauthentic casting, comedic narrative for the trial and an overall poor research leading to disbelief in the story. And I echo the sentiments of Indian audiences everywhere, when I turn to young filmmakers with hope and beg, “Don’t do that. Please!”.

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